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Stand Together Against Poverty

This inner-city farm is changing lives in an extraordinary way.

This inner-city farm is changing lives in an extraordinary way.
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Stand Together

Bonton, a community in south Dallas, Texas, is probably the last place you'd think to start a farm.

Photo courtesy of Bonton Farms; Stand Together.

It feels like it's been abandoned by the rest of the city. 85% percent of the men who live in Bonton have been incarcerated. Many of its residents have a hard time finding work and making ends meet.


For many of Bonton's residents, fresh produce isn't a realistic expectation. Nearly two-thirds of the people who live there don't have reliable transportation. And the nearest grocery store, one that doesn't just sell processed food, takes three hours to get to and back from by bus. The neighborhood is pretty much the definition of a "food desert."

What's worse, the lack of fresh fruits, meats and vegetables has contributed to Bonton's skyrocketing disease rates. The men of Bonton don't live as long as the ones who live in the rest of Dallas. Rates of stroke, cancer, heart disease and diabetes are double compared to the rest of the city. Child obesity is also a serious concern.

These are just links in a long chain of problems that a lack of opportunity has created.

Even though more than a million people live in Dallas, many don't know what's happening in Bonton. Daron Babcock was one of them.

Photo courtesy of Daron Babcock.

Seven years ago, Babcock says, he had "a normal career in business." Life was going as planned. But then one day Babcock had breakfast with a friend. That friend was working with a group of men from Bonton who had recently been released from prison and were trying to get back on track. If Babcock didn't have anything going on, his friend said, perhaps he might like to join him.

Going out to the neighborhood was a turning point for Babcock. Seeing Bonton's residents struggle was something he couldn't unsee. He'd never known what it was like to tread water like the people of Bonton have to, but he knew he had to help.

"What kind of person can you be, how do you live with yourself once you're aware?" says Babcock. "Just ignore and act like it didn't happen? I couldn't do that."

So he sold his home, left his career and moved into a house with no electricity.

[rebelmouse-image 19534981 dam="1" original_size="750x747" caption="Photo courtesy of Bonton Farms." expand=1]Photo courtesy of Bonton Farms.

Because buying land in Bonton is difficult, Babcock made a deal with Habitat for Humanity: In exchange for a place to stay, he'd help keep a home secure that had recently been abandoned.

The neighbors didn't take to him at first; they didn't trust a man who didn't share their background. They took bets on what branch of law enforcement Babcock was in.

But Babcock didn't win anyone over with big promises or ideas. He became part of the neighborhood by admitting that he didn't have any answers.

"I just went to learn and build relationships, and so they were gracious in teaching me this stuff," he says.

What people wanted, says Babcock, were jobs. They wanted security, financial stability, a sense of ownership over their own lives. That's how the farm began.

It started with a community garden. Then Bonton's residents were given a gift of land to grow the garden bigger by Collins Concrete. When that happened, Babcock realized that Bonton Farms was doing much more than giving people access to fresh food. Working together provided the community members with a renewed sense of purpose.

Today, Bonton Farms is helping people eat healthy, start a new job, earn an income, spread their wings, and build a strong future for themselves and their community.

Photo courtesy of Bonton Farms; Stand Together.

Aside from the farm itself, Babcock has started multiple social enterprises which also employ people, and teach them what it takes to start their own businesses.

"One of the things we've learned in working with men coming out of prison, is we have a really broken country, where not everybody has equal opportunity," explains Babcock.

"It doesn't matter whether you're coming out of incarceration, or whether you're coming out of substance abuse, or a domestic violence shelter. You may no longer be beaten up, or being high, or locked up anymore, but you're also no more prepared to go out and flourish, than if you were."

Through continued social entrepreneurship, Bonton Farms addresses this adversity that people in Bonton face and helps build solutions in partnership with the community.

Bonton Farms has become a place where men and women can come when they need someone to walk alongside them while they're recovering and figuring out the path they'd like to take. It's a place where they can feel supported as they learn how to adjust to working.

Participants may not sit in a group and discusses their pasts, but wounds are healed and new connections are made through hard work and a shared commitment to creating a better life. And the proof is in the numbers: not one person has been re-incarcerated since beginning work at Bonton Farms or one of its related enterprises.

Babcock would like to see creative efforts like Bonton all across America. Stand Together is helping the community bring those dreams closer to a reality.

[rebelmouse-image 19534983 dam="1" original_size="750x735" caption="Photo courtesy of Bonton Farms. " expand=1]Photo courtesy of Bonton Farms.

The farm couldn't get by without help, and it's found an incredible partner in Stand Together, an organization that's helping break the cycle of poverty by supporting the country's most innovative social entrepreneurs. Thanks to Stand Together, they're able to scale their efforts in existing communities and other places that need it. The organization provides capital, business consulting, and connections to other resources to help these entrepreneurs' initiatives grow.

"One of the main things Stand Together has done is given us credibility," says Babcock. "Some of the greatest inventions come from somebody taking a chance on something that's never been done before."

Stand Together invests in solving the biggest problems facing our nation today in order to unleash the potential in every individual, regardless of their zip code. That means supporting social entrepreneurs who're close to the problem and have developed creative solutions that are working.

"If we're going to change the status quo, if we're really going to disrupt the way things are, it's going to take new thinking that hasn't been done yet."

"New thinking" is helping Bonton Farms solve problems like poverty, hunger and joblessness. But it's the people that are truly changing the neighborhood.

[rebelmouse-image 19534984 dam="1" original_size="750x750" caption="Photo courtesy of Bonton Farms. " expand=1]Photo courtesy of Bonton Farms.

It would be easy to just label Bonton Farms a success, praise the way it's solving community problems and call it a happy ending. But that's not how Babcock sees it. "There needs to be an understanding that the farm is the hub. It's the vehicle that allows us to do all this." he notes.

Sometimes, he explains, people get the idea that it's the farm work that's the catalyst for change. It's a beautiful story, but it isn't true. The real change comes from the people, the connections they're making, and the sense of hope that permeates the community when neighbors see each other flourishing.

"They see [others] doing better for themselves and for their family, [and think] that it's possible for them, too," says Babcock. "Ultimately, it's the people who took that challenge to fight for a better life that become the change agents for the rest of the neighborhood."

To get involved and find out which of these organizations supports your values, take this quiz here and let Stand Together do the searching for you.

Photos from Tay Nakamoto

Facebook is no longer just your mom’s favorite place to share embarassing photos.

The social media platform has grown in popularity for young users and creators who enjoy forming connections with like-minded individuals through groups and events.

Many of these users even take things offline, meeting up in person for activities like book clubs, brunch squads, and Facebook IRL events, like the recent one held in New York City, and sharing how they use Facebook for more than just social networking.

“Got to connect with so many people IRL at an incredible Facebook pop up event this past weekend!” creator @Sistersnacking said of the event. So many cool activities like airbrushing, poster making + vision boarding, a Marketplace photo studio, and more.”

Tay Nakamoto, a designer known for her whimsical, colorful creations, attended the event and brought her stunning designs to the public. On Facebook, she typically shares renter-friendly hacks, backyard DIY projects, and more with her audience of 556K. For the IRL event, she created many of the designs on display, including a photobooth area, using only finds from Facebook Marketplace.

“Decorating out of 100% Facebook Marketplace finds was a new challenge but I had so much fun and got it doneeee. This was all for the Facebook IRL event in NYC and I got to meet such amazing people!!” Nakamoto shared on her page.


Also at the event was Katie Burke, the creator of Facebook Group “Not Wasting My Twenties.” Like many other recent grads at the start of the pandemic, she found herself unemployed and feeling lost. So she started the group as a way to connect with her peers, provide support for one anopther, and document the small, everyday joys of life.

The group hosts career panels, created a sister group for book club, and has meetups in cities around the US.

Another young creator making the most of Facebook is Josh Rincon, whose mission is to teach financial literacy to help break generational poverty. He grew his audience from 0 to over 1 million followers in six months, proving a growing desire for educational content from a younger generation on the platform.

He’s passionate about making finance accessible and engaging for everyone, and uses social media to teach concepts that are entertaining yet educational.

No matter your interests, age, or location, Facebook can be a great place to find your people, share your ideas, and even make new friends IRL.

Pop Culture

What is 'Generation Jones'? The unique qualities of the not-quite-Gen-X-baby-boomers.

This "microgeneration" had a different upbringing than their fellow boomers.

Generation Jones includes Michelle Obama, George Clooney, Kamala Harris, Keanu Reeves and more.

We hear a lot about the major generation categories—boomers, Gen X, millennials, Gen Z and the up-and-coming Gen Alpha. But there are folks who don't quite fit into those boxes. These in-betweeners, sometimes called "cuspers," are members of microgenerations that straddle two of the biggies.

"Xennial" is the nickname for those who fall on the cusp of Gen X and millennial, but there's also a lesser-known microgeneration that straddles Gen X and baby boomers. The folks born from 1954 to 1965 are known as Generation Jones, and they've been thrust into the spotlight as people try to figure out what generation to consider 59-year-old Vice President Kamala Harris.

Like President Obama before her, Harris is a Gen Jonesernot exactly a classic baby boomer but not quite Gen X. Born in October 1964, Harris falls just a few months shy of official Gen X territory. But what exactly differentiates Gen Jones from the boomers and Gen Xers that flank it?


"Generation Jones" was coined by writer, television producer and social commentator Jonathan Pontell to describe the decade of Americans who grew up in the '60s and '70s. As Pontell wrote of Gen Jonesers in Politico:

"We fill the space between Woodstock and Lollapalooza, between the Paris student riots and the anti-globalisation protests, and between Dylan going electric and Nirvana going unplugged. Jonesers have a unique identity separate from Boomers and GenXers. An avalanche of attitudinal and behavioural data corroborates this distinction."

Pontell describes Jonesers as "practical idealists" who were "forged in the fires of social upheaval while too young to play a part." They are the younger siblings of the boomer civil rights and anti-war activists who grew up witnessing and being moved by the passion of those movements but were met with a fatigued culture by the time they themselves came of age. Sometimes, they're described as the cool older siblings of Gen X. Unlike their older boomer counterparts, most Jonesers were not raised by WWII veteran fathers and were too young to be drafted into Vietnam, leaving them in between on military experience.

Gen Jones gets its name from the competitive "keeping up with the Joneses" spirit that spawned during their populous birth years, but also from the term "jonesin'," meaning an intense craving, that they coined—a drug reference but also a reflection of the yearning to make a difference that their "unrequited idealism" left them with. According to Pontell, their competitiveness and identity as a "generation aching to act" may make Jonesers particularly effective leaders:

"What makes us Jonesers also makes us uniquely positioned to bring about a new era in international affairs. Our practical idealism was created by witnessing the often unrealistic idealism of the 1960s. And we weren’t engaged in that era’s ideological battles; we were children playing with toys while boomers argued over issues. Our non-ideological pragmatism allows us to resolve intra-boomer skirmishes and to bridge that volatile Boomer-GenXer divide. We can lead."

Time will tell whether the United States will end up with another Generation Jones leader, but with President Biden withdrawing his candidacy, it has now become a distinct possibility.

Of note in discussions over Kamala Harris's generational status is the fact that generations aren't just calculated by birth year but by a person's cultural reality. Some have made the argument that Harris is culturally more Gen X than boomer, though there doesn't seem to be any record of her claiming any particular generation as her own. However, a swath of Gen Z has staked their own claim on her as "brat"—a term singer Charli XCX thrust into the political arena with a post on X that read "kamala IS brat." That may be nonsensical to most older folks, but for Gen Z, it's a glowing endorsement from one of the top Gen Z musicians of the moment.

What does English sound like with German syntax?

Native English speakers often find German grammar rules pretty baffling. So, imagine if English speakers used German grammar and syntax while speaking their native tongue. Overlearner, a YouTuber who speaks multiple languages, created a video to show what a typical conversation would sound like.

Overlearner’s page discusses the optimal ways to learn languages, music, martial arts, and many other skills.

What’s interesting about the video is German’s unique syntax.


For example:

Person 1:Must you today also to work?

Person 2:No, I must today not to work I have today a day free but I work morning and over morning.


When people speak English but with German grammaryoutu.be

Or there was a crazy situation that went down at Person 2’s job. He’s a tooth doctor, or was we would call him, a dental assistant.

Person 2: Yesterday is a female patient in the clinic come that such fear before tooth doctors had that she during the examination to scream begun has then upstood and out the building run is.

Person 1:Wow, what for a crazy situation, yes.

The video's mixed-up syntax reminded many people in the comments of a “Star Wars” character. "This sounds like AI Shakespearean Yoda having a stroke," one commenter wrote. "So… to Germans, Yoda was the only normal one?" another added.

The video is a great way for English speakers to better understand what German sounds like to native speakers. It’s also a wonderful reminder that we should give any English speakers learning German or German speakers learning English a lot of credit because figuring out how to switch syntax like that must be maddening.

Science

Researchers dumped tons of coffee waste into a forest. This is what it looks like now.

30 dump truck loads and two years later, the forest looks totally different.

One of the biggest problems with coffee production is that it generates an incredible amount of waste. Once coffee beans are separated from cherries, about 45% of the entire biomass is discarded.

So for every pound of roasted coffee we enjoy, an equivalent amount of coffee pulp is discarded into massive landfills across the globe. That means that approximately 10 million tons of coffee pulp is discarded into the environment every year.



When disposed of improperly, the waste can cause serious damage soil and water sources.

However, a new study published in the British Ecological Society journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence has found that coffee pulp isn't just a nuisance to be discarded. It can have an incredibly positive impact on regrowing deforested areas of the planet.

via British Ecological Society

In 2018, researchers from ETH-Zurich and the University of Hawaii spread 30 dump trucks worth of coffee pulp over a roughly 100' x 130' area of degraded land in Costa Rica. The experiment took place on a former coffee farm that underwent rapid deforestation in the 1950s.

The coffee pulp was spread three-feet thick over the entire area.

Another plot of land near the coffee pulp dump was left alone to act as a control for the experiment.

"The results were dramatic." Dr. Rebecca Cole, lead author of the study, said. "The area treated with a thick layer of coffee pulp turned into a small forest in only two years while the control plot remained dominated by non-native pasture grasses."

In just two years, the area treated with coffee pulp had an 80% canopy cover, compared to just 20% of the control area. So, the coffee-pulp-treated area grew four times more rapidly. Like a jolt of caffeine, it reinvigorated biological activity in the area.

The canopy was also four times taller than that of the control.

Before and after images of the forest

The forest experienced a radical, positive change

via British Ecological Society

The coffee-treated area also eliminated an invasive species of grass that took over the land and prevented forest succession. Its elimination allowed for other native species to take over and recolonize the area.

"This case study suggests that agricultural by-products can be used to speed up forest recovery on degraded tropical lands. In situations where processing these by-products incurs a cost to agricultural industries, using them for restoration to meet global reforestation objectives can represent a 'win-win' scenario," Dr. Cole said.

If the results are repeatable it's a win-win for coffee drinkers and the environment.

Researchers believe that coffee treatments can be a cost-effective way to reforest degraded land. They may also work to reverse the effects of climate change by supporting the growth of forests across the globe.

The 2016 Paris Agreement made reforestation an important part of the fight against climate change. The agreement incentivizes developing countries to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, promote forest conservation and sustainable management, and enhance forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

"We hope our study is a jumping off point for other researchers and industries to take a look at how they might make their production more efficient by creating links to the global restoration movement," Dr. Cole said.


This article originally appeared on 03.29.21

Pop Culture

People are sharing their personal encounters with Robin Williams to honor his birthday

A tribute from Williams' son prompted heartwarming anecdotes from everyday people who met the iconic comedian.

Photo credits: ABC and Eva Rinaldi

Robin Williams' son Zak shared a tribute on social media on what would have been his dad's 73rd birthday.

Few entertainers have enjoyed as much broad appeal and admiration as comedian Robin Williams, but people's love for him is not just for his performances. Williams was a talented comedian and an actor with a surprisingly wide range, but by all accounts he was also a delightful and caring human being.

Williams would have been 73 years old on July 21, 2024. His son Zak shared a touching tribute to his father on social media, which prompted everyday people to share their personal anecdotes of their encounters with him.


"Dad, on what would be your 73rd birthday, I remember you for all the hope and joy you brought to the world," Zak Williams wrote. "There's not a week that goes by without someone sharing with me how you helped them through a dark time or a rough patch. I'm so grateful to be your son. Love you forever."

As the stories poured in, it became clearer and clearer how much the world lost with Robin Williams' passing in 2014. Here are some highlights:

"I passed your dad carrying you one day on a sidewalk in SF - you looked to be around 2. You were both talking to each other in made-up language and you were really holding your own. Your dad caught me watching and as you passed me by, he tipped his head towards you and beamed the most incredible loving smile - he thought you were something else." – malloryvk

"Jumanji was filmed in my hometown (Keene, NH) when my mom was working at a local restaurant - Robin Williams stopped in and my mother was his waitress. She took his order as she was trained to - 'hello my name is Robin, what can I get for you today?' - he ordered a burger and tipped $100, 'from one Robin to another.'" – emmatshibambi

"Every Christmas, your Dad would visit the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at UCSF. He would visit every child who was able to have a visitor and all of the exhausted and terrified parents. Your dad’s goodness and love were felt by everyone there." – kennandlisa

"Many, many years ago, I worked at Harrods in Knightsbridge. I was working the Caralina Herrera sunglasses counter one day and Robin Williams came up and asked directions to the Sports department. I tried to play it cool as I took in the laughter lines of his face, the twinkle in his eyes, the kindness of his soul. I needed to remember this moment forever. And I do! (And I often wonder if he found the sports department straight away, as I'm pretty sure I told him in my true awkwardness to turn right instead of left at the top of the escalator. Sorry Robin) A forever memory and much love and appreciation for the human that you were. ❤️" – ilovekerry.2

"In the early 2000’s, my mom spotted Mr. Williams by himself sight-seeing in downtown Toronto. She was so excited as she was a huge fan, and approached him. She later told me how he radiated warmth, his blue eyes sparkling, and was even kind enough to sign an autograph. Though my mom is now in Heaven too, I still cherish this memory (and the autograph + pen he used!) 🙌" – foxy_the_squirrel

"I watched your dad since Mork & Mindy & had a casual conversation with him at the Apple Store in NYC but I did not tell him I knew it was him. I wanted him to enjoy his shopping without getting hit by millions of people. He had a thick beard but I saw his BRIGHT CLEAR BLUE EYES. Absolutely unmistakable & one of a kind, not just his eyes but his heart." – InventorBLADES

"I can’t even tell you the impact he had on my life… I went through a horrible violent crime as a teen and spent years hiding it, that decision created great mental anguish and Robin saved my life. I can’t explain the details, but he was an angel on earth and he had a way to speak to hearts with his one of kind spontaneous comedy and I am forever thankful for the gift of him in my journey." – wenbernacky

"I mean this in a very literal sense—no other famous persons passing has ever hit me, but his… it’s almost as if I had personally known him and he had been there to comfort me during hard times. Those types of souls are magic in human form." – iamchief_chris

Some may not know that Robin Williams also advocated for homeless people in Congress, with his signature compassion and even some comedy thrown in. Watch:

And for more of Robin Williams in real life, check out his "Inside the Actor's Studio" interview with James Lipton, which apparently gave one of the audience members a hernia from laughing so hard.

Family

Former pro athlete explains how to assess a kid's true athletic potential

Nate Daniels breaks down how to tell if your kid has the talent and skill to go pro—and why that's not so important.

@natedaniels_1/TikTok

Having unrealistic expectations can makes parents and kids miss out on what's important—enjoying the game.

Following a 6-year stint as a professional football player, Nate Daniels is now dedicated to helping families navigate the world of children’s sports in positive and uplifting ways. When not mentoring through his Next Level Athletes program, you might find Daniels on TikTok sharing stories from his pro football days along with helpful insights for parents.

Recently Daniels delved into a question that he gets from parents all the time: “Is my child an elite athlete?”

Parents are, of course, usually asking this question with the good intention of setting their kid up for their best possible future. After all, a potential professional future would require a completely different level of commitment, both from the child and the parents, so it would be good to know that as soon as possible. But how to know if that’s necessary?

According to Daniels, the answer might be quite simple.


“First of all, if you have to ask me that question, they're probably not an elite athlete, but stay with me,” he says at the start of his clip.

As he explains, “When you have an elite athlete, it is glaring. They stick out like a sore thumb. A layman could walk in the gym and be like, ‘Man, who is that kid?’ You could walk out on the soccer pitch, the baseball field, the lacrosse field, and everyone knows that kid is different.”

In other words, this kind of gift won’t go unnoticed, both by other parents and the child’s coach. “Like my idol when I was growing up, used to say, Walter Payton, ‘When you're good, you're going around telling everybody how good you are. But when you're great, they're telling you.’” Daniels attests.

But Daniels also affirms that the next part is far more “crucial” for parents to understand: “You do not know what you have until a kid has hit puberty.”


@natedaniels_1 I’m asked by sports parents multiple times a week about their athletes potential let’s talk about it. #youthsports #youthathletes #sportsparents #athlete #athletesoftiktok #sports #athletes #sportstiktok #sportsperformance #parentsoftiktok #athletemotivation #athletemindset @Next Level Athletes ♬ original sound - Nate Daniels

“I've coached and trained youth athletes that were completely dominant at the youth level. And after they hit puberty has disappeared. And the beautiful thing I've also coached, the vice versa,” he explained.

This was something that many other parents had also witnessed, as indicated by the comments.

“This is so true. My son was a beast as a youth. Everybody knew his name. Then puberty hit and he disappeared. Still not sure what happened. 🤷🏾♀️,” one viewer wrote.

"I can’t tell you how many middle school kids and even freshmen level out in 10th grade and then everyone else catches up and most of the time surpasses!” shared another.

Daniels’ final message to parents is this: “If you have a youth athlete that is experiencing success, just let them enjoy that success. Let them continue to work hard. Be patient to see how it will play out.”

“I'm not saying this to burst your bubble or to temper your being proud. I'm proud. I want you to be proud of your kids, but these expectations that you're projecting just aren't realistic most times.”

And to youth athletes currently struggling, Daniels says: “Keep your head down and keep working. Do not let anything discourage you. You never know what the future holds. But in order to fulfill that potential, you have to keep putting in the work.”

Sports can have so many benefits for kids, regardless of whether or not they go pro. But so many of those benefits might be overshadowed by performance pressures put on by well-meaning parents. Take it from a pro himself—slow down. Enjoy the game and let the future unfold.